Kislak Center
for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

Detail

Exhibits from the Kislak Center

Reactions: Medieval/Modern

On exhibit August 25 - December 16, 2016
Goldstein Family Gallery, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center

In conjunction with the 9th Annual Schoenberg Symposium of the same theme, Reactions: Medieval/Modern explores the many and varied ways that people have reacted to, and acted upon, manuscripts from the Middle Ages up to today. Reactions take many forms. They include the manipulation of physical objects through, for example, the marking up of texts, addition of illustrations, the disbinding books or rebinding fragments, as well as the manipulation of digital objects, thanks to new technologies involved in digitization, ink and parchment analysis, virtual reconstruction, among many other processes. Both the exhibition and symposium will also tackle how popular culture has reacted to manuscripts over time as witnessed by their use and appearance in books, games, and films. For more information on the exhibition, related symposium, and publication.

Arbitrary Pleasures - Plaisirs Arbitraires

On exhibit September 26, 2016 - March 10, 2017
Kamin Gallery, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center

Dan Rose conjures the controlled wildness of Raymond Roussel, Marcel Duchamp, Harry Mathews, Georges Perec, and the OuLiPo movement with the assured irreverence of an accomplished book artist. Drawing from the tradition of formal constraints???if not always arbitrary pleasures???his artist books flip advertising, anthropology, philosophy, architecture, and gender identity on their heads. Rose's visual narratives of such topics as the underarm, big science, sex, motherhood, large corporations, super-secret government projects, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's image take the viewer-reader on journeys into elegant absurdity.

Recent acquisition

Franklin's first Philadelphia Printing Job

Benjamin Franklin was perhaps the most globally influential American of the eighteenth century. Over the course of his long life he was a printer, writer, statesman, diplomat, inventor, and scholar. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States he was also a great Philadelphian, founding over half a dozen civic institutions in the city including what is now the University of Pennsylvania. However, Franklin started his life in Philadelphia in 1723 as a seventeen year old fugitive. He had just run away from an apprenticeship at his brother???s print shop in Boston, breaking the terms of his indenture and the law. Fleeing first to New York, Franklin applied at a printer there who suggested instead that he travel to Philadelphia to work with his son, also a printer, whose assistant had recently died. When Franklin arrived in Philadelphia, the New York printer took him not to his sons??? but to the shop of Samuel Keimer, a recent English ??migr??. At the time Franklin visited, Keimer was composing a piece honoring Aquila Rose, the young poet and printer???s assistant whose death helped prompt Franklin???s trip. Keimer asked him to return and print this piece himself shortly thereafter. This Elegy on the Death of Aquila Rose was the first work Franklin printed in Philadelphia. If he had not been successful in its execution, Franklin might well have moved on from Philadelphia without employment, changing the course of history.

We know the story of Franklin???s first days in Philadelphia thanks to his own autobiography which he compiled some sixty years later. Printing the Elegy clearly made a lasting impression on him as he mentions few other printing endeavors in his long career with such detail. Though not noted in his autobiography, examination of the actual broadside reveals a remarkable headpiece featuring skulls, crossed bones, and an hour glass. The New England style of decoration and its quality have led some to speculate that it was actually carved by young Franklin himself. Until the discovery of the copy of the Elegy now at the Penn Libraries, no one had reported seeing one since the mid-nineteenth century. For more see Press Release

The broadside is on display through February 10th in the entrance lobby of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center.